WeAreTeachers Staff

If there’s one thing every teacher has in common, it’s the need to stick to a budget while maximizing the learning experience. That’s why we’re such a big fan of these dollar store hacks. Inexpensive supplies make these ideas go a long way, without breaking the bank!

(Just a heads up! WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. We only recommend items our team loves!)

     School Supplies Dollar Store Hacks

Teachers can save a bundle by buying school supplies at Dollar Tree. Here are some of our favorite supplies, plus smart ways to make them go even further.

Buy online

Dollar Tree Homepage screenshot

Did you know you can buy many of Dollar Tree‘s items online? You’ll usually need to be willing to order in bulk, but you can be sure they have what you need in stock. You can pick items up at the store or have them shipped to your door to save you a trip. Schools can even set up an account for tax-exempt orders.

Personalize pencils

Teacher holding pencils personalized with clear tape (Dollar Store Hacks)

Turn ordinary pencils into something special with our cool trick that uses clear tape to add personalized messages! Learn how it’s done here.

Print on sticky notes

Page of sticky notes coming out of a printer

This may be one of our favorite dollar store hacks! It’s surprisingly easy to personalize your sticky notes with your printer. Find out how and get lots of free templates here.

Add pom-poms to dry erase markers

Expo dry erase markers with pom poms glued to the bottom (Dollar Store Hacks)

Stop erasing writing errors with your fingers! Use hot-glue to attach pom-poms to your dry erase markers to use as erasers instead.

Cut composition books in half

Composition notebook cut in half horizontally to create two notebooks (Dollar Store Hacks)

Get two notebooks for the price of one! Teacher Stuff shares this tip: Office supply stores can cut composition books in half for you. (If you’ve got a band saw at home, you can also do it yourself.)

Dress up composition books with duct tape

Composition book covered in owl-printed duct tape, with tape roll and scissors

Whether you cut them in half or leave them whole, you can decorate composition books with duct tape. The dollar store usually has lots of fun colors and patterns to try. Get the DIY from The Happy Housewife.

Swap glue sticks for a glue sponge

Blue sponge soaked in liquid glue (Dollar Store Hacks)

Place a kitchen sponge (scrubby side down, if it has one) into a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, then pour liquid school glue over the sponge until it’s saturated. Kids press items lightly onto the sponge to pick up just enough glue. Put the lid back on when you’re done to keep it fresh and refill as needed.

Put glitter in salt and pepper shakers

Salt shaker filled with purple glitter (Dollar Store Hacks)

If you love glitter but hate the mess, pour it into salt shakers for kids to use instead, like @tinymindsdaycare. You can seal them with a strip of tape across the top.

Stop rolling pencils with straws

Pencil held in place by a piece of paper straw taped to a desk (Dollar Store Hacks)

In about five seconds, you can stop the nuisance of pencils that roll away forever! Simple cut straws in half and tape a piece to each student’s desk. Slide the pencil (or pen) through, and you’re done! See this hack in action here.

Never lose a glue stick cap again

Glue sticks with colored dot stickers on the lids and bodies

We got this tip from @teachingwithmisspeney, who says, “I don’t know about you, but glue stick lids would magically disappear all the time!! We were chucking glue sticks out daily, until I added these little colored dots! From then on, as soon as someone found a glue stick without a lid, they would all be on the hunt for a matching colored lid!! Not only was this great for their accountability and independence, but also for their problem solving and color recognition.”

DIY some privacy folders

Tri-fold boards with colored duct tape decoration

Privacy folders can be useful during tests, or when kids need a safe space to calm down in a crowded classroom. Make your own in a snap by cutting tri-fold presentation boards in half. You can even decorate them with duct tape as Undercover Classroom did.

Create marker sets

Crayola markers with their lids duct taped together

Corral lost marker lids by duct taping them all together in one set. Kids snap the markers back in when they’re done using them. @planethappysmiles says it really works!

     Classroom Organization Dollar Store Hacks

You’ll find so many ways to keep the clutter under control with dollar store hacks. Check out these awesome ideas.

Store anchor charts on clip hangers

Classroom anchor charts hanging on clip hangers (Dollar Store Hacks)

Have lots of anchor charts? @casadahl recommends using clip hangers to keep them organized. If your dollar store doesn’t have them, combine clothespins and regular hangers instead. (Get more anchor chart organization ideas here.)

Flip a crate for scissor storage

Black storage crate turned upside-down with scissors inserted into the holes, labeled Scissors

Store scissors safely with the blades pointed down by turning a plastic crate upside-down and using the holes, one per pair. Simple, but effective.

Turn a toothbrush case into a pencil holder

White toothbrush holder filled with pencils and labeled "Violet" (Dollar Store Hacks)

It turns out that toothbrush travel cases are just the right size to hold pens and pencils! Label them with kids’ names using permanent markers.

Sort sharp and dull pencils

Metal pails labeled Sharp and Dull filled with pencils (Dollar Store Hacks)

Follow Elementary Organization’s example to save time (and distractions). Create a place for kids to drop off their dull pencils and pick up sharp ones throughout the day. Assign one student to regularly sharpen any dull ones as their classroom job.

Use book bins for student mailboxes

Cardboard magazine holders with children's photos on the front

Line up magazine organizers or book bins for easy student mailboxes. We love the idea of adding photos to pre-readers’ boxes, like Kindergarten, Kindergarten does.

Corral cables with binder clips

Binder clips holding charging cables to the edge of a table

There are so many dollar store hacks that use binder clips, and this one from Wired is one of the smartest. Attach binder clips to the edge of a table, then prop the cords through the handles. See more binder clip tricks here.

Set up turn-in bins

Colorful paper bins labeled for turning in homework papers (Dollar Store Hacks)

Give kids a chance for self-assessment with these smart turn-in bins from @talesfromaverybusyteacher. They can place their papers in the bins based on how confident they feel in their mastery of the topic.

Hang plastic totes as cubbies

Red plastic tote baskets hung on plastic hooks on a wall (Dollar Store Hacks)

Here’s a good way to make use of brick walls: attach sticky hooks and hang totes from them to create storage space. Prepping For the Primary Gridiron gets the kudos for this idea.

Attach letter trays underneath chairs

Colorful plastic paper trays attached to the bottom of school chairs (Dollar Store Hacks)

Taking It To The Next Level used zip ties to attach paper trays to student chairs, provided extra storage in otherwise wasted space. Love it!

Store earbuds in a compartmented case

Compartmented plastic case holding numbered earbuds (Dollar Store Hacks)

Take a cue from Inspire Love Learn and store earbuds in a divided organizer. (Find lots of other headphone and earbud storage ideas here.)

    Clean Classroom Dollar Store Hacks

It’s more important than ever to keep our classrooms clean these days. Custodial staff does a lot of the hard work, but these dollar store hacks can help keep your classroom safe and sparkling all day long.

Clean up glitter with Play-Doh

Teacher using play-doh to remove glitter from a carpet (Dollar Store Hacks)

Uh oh! Someone spilled glitter, and there’s no vacuum handy. What’s a teacher to do? Fortunately, a little Play-Doh is the perfect way to clean it up.

Use hand sanitizer bottles as hall passes

Hand sanitizer bottles labeled Boys Bathroom Pass and Girls Bathroom Pass

Hopefully, your school is providing hand sanitizer in bulk for your classroom, but you can still pick up a couple of small bottles to use as hall passes. Grab the free printable labels from 3rd Grade Thoughts and re-fill the bottles from bigger bulk containers as needed.

Stitch up some board eraser mitts

Teacher holding blue and pink eraser mitts made from microfiber cloth

One big microfiber cloth is enough to make multiples of these little eraser mitts, as @beingmissaustin demonstrates. If you’ve got a sewing machine, you can run them up in minutes.

Clean desks with shaving cream

Students using shaving cream to clean their desks (Dollar Store Hacks)

Your students are gonna love this one! Squirt shaving cream on desks and let them draw, write, and play to their hearts’ content. Growing Roots says that in about half an hour, the cream will evaporate off, leaving desks free of crayon, pencil, and glue marks. (This probably won’t disinfect desks completely, though, so some sanitizing spray may still be necessary.)

Remove permanent marker with dry erase markers

Teacher writing over permanent marker on a white board with dry erase marker, then erasing it (Dollar Store Hacks)

Did someone accidentally write on the whiteboard with a permanent marker? Good news! Imagination Soup confirms that all you need to do is write over it with a dry erase marker, and the alcohol in the ink will help lift the permanent marker up when you erase. Alcohol-based disinfecting wipes work too.

Set out Tidy Tubs

Plastic bin labeled Tidy Tub #4

We’re willing to bet there’s only one trash can in your classroom. This means your students are either making a lot of trips to throw stuff out, or there’s a lot of litter on the floor (and in their desks!). Add labels to bins to create mini Tidy Tubs for garbage like Sailing Into Second does, and assign a student to empty them at least once each day.

Renew whiteboards with basic supplies

Teacher using toothpaste on a rag to clean a white board (Dollar Store Hacks)

There are multiple dollar store hacks for making your whiteboards shine like new again. WikiHow recommends toothpaste, along with other options like vinegar, hairspray, muscle cream, and nail polish remover.

Polish stainless steel with a dryer sheet

Teacher using dryer sheet to clean stainless steel

Stainless steel tends to accumulate fingerprints like crazy. If anything in your classroom is made of stainless, clean it easily with a dryer sheet, as Southern Home Express recommends.

     Math Learning Dollar Store Hacks

From counting and math facts to fractions and beyond, there are so many dollar store hacks you can use for teaching math. They all add up to fun!

Cut up paper plates to learn fractions

Colorful paper plates divided into sections and labeled with fractions (Dollar Store Hacks)

You can get so many fraction manipulatives from just a few packs of colored paper plates! Cut them into sections, label them with fractions, and let kids put them together to see fractions in action.

Solve domino math puzzles

Dominos and a set of printable worksheets

Download these free math printable puzzles from Games 4 Gains, then pair them with a set of dominoes to practice your math facts.

Play math facts War

Two decks of playing cards with four cards face up next to them

Just like traditional war, the goal is to have the highest set of cards. In this game, each player flips two cards at once. They can add, subtract, or multiply (depending on what you’re practicing) and the highest total keeps all the cards. Learn more from Creative Family Fun.

Wear math facts name tags

Hello My Name Is name tag reading 8 x 3 (Dollar Store Hacks)

This idea is so much fun! At the beginning of the day, give each student a name tag with a math fact problem written on it. For the rest of the day, everyone must refer to each other by the answer to the fact instead of their real name! Thanks to Mr. Elementary Math for this one.

Be the first to get 15-in-a-row

Student with a row of flashcards

The Measured Mom invented this fun flashcard game. Build a row of cards, placing them in ascending order according to the answer to the math fact. The first to finish their row wins!

Compete at Equivalent Fractions Spoons

Fraction cards and plastic spoons

Just like the classic game Spoons, only with an equivalent fraction twist! Learn how to play from Games 4 Gains.

Stack plastic cups

Black plastic cups with math facts and answers stacked in rows (Dollar Store Hacks)

We don’t know why kids love stacking cups so much, but they certainly do! Write math facts on some cups and answers on the others, then let kids stack away. Kindergarten Smorgasboard finds this one to be a big hit.

Whack ping pong balls to subtract

Student using a wooden mallet to tap ping pong balls into a cardboard box while holding a card saying 8-3

How fun is this? With a shoebox and some ping pong balls, you can make your own Whack-a-Mole style game to practice subtraction! Planning Playtime, this one is genius.

Roll and write number sentences

Large foam dice with a printable Roll and Write worksheet (Dollar Store Hacks)

Dice are terrific for lots of math games, like this one from Math Geek Mama. Roll two dice, then write the number sentence for addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division.

String a pi bead bracelet

Beaded bracelet made using the numerals of pi with 3.141592653 written alongside

What a fun way to celebrate Pi Day! String colored beads on pipe cleaners, inspired by Momgineer.

    Language Arts Learning Dollar Store Hacks

Try these dollar store hacks for fun and affordable ways to learn the alphabet, practice spelling, and work on reading!

Pop bubbles to learn letters

Student popping bubbles on bubble wrap while tracing the letters of the name Sara (Dollar Store Hacks)

Everyone loves popping bubble wrap, so follow Coffee Cups and Crayon‘s lead and use it to help pre-readers master their letters. Just use a marker to write the letters, and let kids pop the bubbles underneath.

Build brick letters

The letters J and K built from LEGO bricks, with a stack of cards (Dollar Store Hacks)

We love dollar store hacks that combine learning with kids’ favorite toys! Ask kids to build letters using building bricks, following these free printable cards from Wildflower Ramblings.

Put together craft stick name puzzles

Child's picture glued to a series of wood craft sticks and cut apart, with the letters of her name underneath (Dollar Store Hacks)

This is an inexpensive and very fun way to learn names and sight words. Use Mod Podge to glue a photo or picture to a set of sticks laid flat, and write the letters of the word underneath. Then cut them apart and let kids put them back together, learning to spell along the way!

Roll and write a story

Chart with dice numbers down one side and character, setting, and plot points across the top

It can be hard to get kids to let loose and write creatively. That’s why we love Roll and Write activities! Grab one of the free printables from RoomBop (there are several to choose from). Then give each student a die to roll three times, giving them a character, setting, and plot to get them started.

Make mix-and-match poetry dice

Dry erase dice with various sentences written on each side

Dry erase dice are such a terrific tool in the classroom, and we love that you can get them at the dollar store. Learn how to use them to make mix-and-match poetry dice from Education.com.

Kick it up with sight word soccer

Series of small orange cones with words taped to them laid out on grass

Get students up and moving while they learn with sight word soccer. Learn how to play from Coffee Cups and Crayons.

Inspire creativity with mini erasers

Mini erasers shaped like a pencil, penguin, fox, and snowman, with a notebook and pen

Mini erasers are another one of those supplies that have so many uses in the classroom. One of our favorites is to pull a couple of them at random, then use them to inspire creative writing activities. See more from Sara J Creations.

Spell out words with toy cars

Toy cars with letters on the tops, put together to form words (Dollar Store Hacks)

This activity is sure to give your students the drive to learn their spelling or sight words! Thanks for the idea, @lozlovesprep.

Have more dollar store hacks to share? We’d love to hear about them in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, don’t miss Dollar Store Science: Easy Experiments You Can Try Right Now.

*1 LIMRA, Not-for-Profit Survey, Q1 2020 Results, based on 403(b) plan participants and contributions. This applies specifically and exclusive to Equitable Financial Life Insurance Company (Equitable Financial).
Article provided by WeAreTeachers.com and sponsored by Equitable. Equitable Financial Life Insurance Company (Equitable Financial) and Equitable Advisors, LLC (member FINRA, SIPC) are affiliated companies, located at 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104, (212) 554-1234. Equitable Financial and its affiliates do not provide student loan forgiveness, tax, accounting or legal advice or services and are not affiliated with WeAreTeachers.com. Equitable is the brand name of the retirement and protection subsidiaries of Equitable Holdings, Inc., including Equitable Financial Life Insurance Company (NY, NY); Equitable Financial Life Insurance Company of America, an AZ stock company with main administrative headquarters in Jersey City, NJ; and Equitable Distributors, LLC. Equitable Advisors is the brand name of Equitable Advisors, LLC (member FINRA, SIPC) (Equitable Financial Advisors in MI & TN). The obligations of Equitable Financial and Equitable America are backed solely by their claims-paying abilities. GE- 3727041.1 a,b,c (8/21)(Exp. 8/23)





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